Something’s still “phishy” about vacation rentals

If you think the words “vacation rental” and “phishing” are all but synonymous, you’re not alone. Just talk to Ann Schutte, who recently found a rental villa with a “million-dollar” view in Sedona, Ariz., through the rental Web site

A woman claiming to own the property quoted her a $645 rate for five nights if she wired her the money. “After a number of e-mails back and forth, I agreed to the rental,” says Schutte, a property manager from Phoenix. “I received a contract. Everything looked correct on the contract. It even had the rental property address and logo. I signed the agreement, and wired the money through Western Union to the U.K.”
Continue reading…

Vacation rental phishing scams catch more travelers

Shauna Kattler thought she’d found the ideal rental home in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for her Christmas vacation: a two-bedroom penthouse condominium with a hot tub and an impossibly perfect view of the Caribbean.

And she was getting it for the impossibly low peak-season rate of $450 a night through, a popular vacation rental Web site. “Impossibly” being the operative word.
Continue reading…

Consumer alert: No, you don’t have a friend who was mugged in London today

Watch out. Someone pretending to be a friend is out to make a quick buck today. Don’t fall for it.

The scam, which I first wrote about last year, steals email passwords and then sends a message to your contacts, pleading for money. As I noted in a follow-up story, the swindle is relatively easy to spot — if you know what to look for.

I’ve had three emails this morning, which suggests the cybercriminals have hit the jackpot with a new phishing technique.
Continue reading…

Best. Comeback. Ever.

Phishing scams are getting so sophisticated that even the smartest people can fall for them. These so-called spear phishing traps demand a smart answer. Jack Healey has the perfect comeback.

First, let’s have a look at the email he received from one of these fraudsters.
Continue reading…

In ‘phishing’ scams, your friends get lost

A stolen bag. Lost cash. A missing passport.

It had all the hallmarks of a trip from hell. And the e-mail, which ostensibly came from a reader I had corresponded with back in 2008, seemed equally genuine. “I really don’t mean to inconvenience you right now,” he wrote. But he was stuck in London. Would I be willing to wire him $940 so he could get home?

Only it wasn’t real.
Continue reading…

“I made a quick trip to London UK this past weekend and had my bag stolen from me”

Here’s a new phishing scam that could cost you a lot of money — $940, in my case.

Phishing is the act of sending an email that falsely claims to be from a trusted source, in an effort to obtain your password, personal account information, or just money. The most famous “phishers” are the legendary Nigerian bank scams, but there are many others. Only a few target travelers.

This one seems directly aimed at the jet-set, and I’ve received a few of them. They’re so convincing that I almost tried to help the first one I got.
Continue reading…